Just under 1,000 fans showed up at L.P. Frans Stadium in Hickory to witness Wake Forest and Appalachian State square off in college baseball.
The Demon Deacons scored six runs in the first four innings of the game to distance themselves and hold off a late rally by the Mountaineers to seal the victory.
Both coaches enjoyed their time in Hickory and Frans Stadium.
“We love the ballpark here,” said Wake Forest coach Tom Walter. “This is old school and old-fashion baseball. We hopefully want to do this every year and continue to grow it.”
Appalachian State coach Chris Pollard, whose team has played at L.P. Frans several times, enjoyed the atmosphere of the game.
“I thought it was a really good atmosphere,” Pollard said. “We are very appreciative of the Crawdads and the hospitality they’ve shown us by inviting us down for this game and all of the times in the past that they’ve allowed us to come down here and play when we couldn’t play in Boone.”
Wake Forest (9-15) started scoring in the second inning. Designated hitter Stephen Schoettmer doubled to center field and scored Carlos Lopez from second base.
Two more runs were scored on walks from pitcher Lawrence Pardo in the inning. Three walks were issued by Pardo in the inning.
Mac Williamson drove in the first home run of the game in the bottom of the third inning with his solo shot to left center field to make it a 4-0 lead for Wake Forest.
In the fourth inning, Wake added two more runs to further solidify the lead. Steven Brooks flied out to center field. Pat Blair tagged up and scored from third.
Mark Rhine scored after a Matt Conway double for the final run of the inning for Wake Forest.
It took the Mountaineers (12-13) until the top of the seventh inning to get on the scoreboard. Zack Briggs doubled, advanced to third on a groundout by Preston Troutman and scored on a sacrifice fly by Hector Crespo.
Two innings later and down 6-1, Appalachian State rallied to attempt to tie the game. Leadoff hitter Daniel Kassouf singled, and Will Callaway pinch ran for him.
Callaway advanced to third on a walk of Jeremy Dowdy and tagged up after a fly out by Briggs to advance to third. He later scored on a double by Preston Troutman. One batter later, the bases were loaded. The Mountaineers had a chance to dig into the lead or potentially tie the game.
“I thought it was a tale of two halves of the ball game,” Pollard said. “I thought the first half of the game, we just walked too many guys and gave them too many opportunities. In the second half, I thought our pitching staff did a great job. They came in and kept us in the ball game. Offensively, it came down to the fact we struck out two times with two outs and the bases loaded. We just didn’t give ourselves a chance in those situations.”
John McLeod struck out the final two batters to end the game and seal the victory.
“I thought our bats went to sleep,” Walter said. “Give credit to their relievers. They came in and threw the ball well against us. We only had six hits on the day. Not a whole lot of offense for either team. Fortunately for us, we were able to put together a couple of multiple-run innings and got out of a jam in the ninth.”
As for the turnout of the game, Hickory Crawdads general manager Mark Seaman said he wants to keep the game a yearly ritual.
“We are pleased with the attendance tonight,” Seaman said. “Hopefully, we can make this a tradition. Maybe not every year, but every other year.”